Do you have an eye for aesthetics? Have you invested in a fancy camera beyond the typical smartphone camera? Do you have photography chops that make you the go-to photographer during group travel, family functions, and events with friends?
If you have a passion for photography and a desire to make extra money on the side with a photography business, the time is now to get your photography business up and running.
While it’s true that photography is a popular type of side hustle, it doesn’t mean you can’t join in on the fun, start your own business, and set yourself apart from the crowd.
You’ll just need to work extra hard, take advice from successful photography side hustlers, and invest in the tools that will help you set out on the right foot. Let’s take a closer look at what this means.
How Do You Know if Photography is a Good Fit?
If you’re interested in starting a side business, it’s true you have several options. How do you know if turning your passion for photography into a full-fledged business is the right move?
Follow your passion
Jill Ransom, a professional photographer, offers some excellent insight into how she knew photography was a good fit for her. She says:
I love to take photographs. I’ve been doing it since I was a kid. Anything I could point a camera at was fair game. While I was in college working on a nursing degree I took a few classes in the photography department and learned how to develop my own film. That was a lot of fun.
As a result of those classes and the critiques we shared as students, I became a better photographer. I started taking pictures of my friends and their newborns and kids, and their dogs, and really enjoyed doing that. People liked my work. I started watching YouTube to learn how to polish my skills in photoshop—-another of my newfound passions. I decided that I’d give becoming a professional photographer a shot and maybe make a little money doing something that was so much fun.”
Does this sound like you? If you’ve always had a knack and passion for photography like Jill Ransom, you can rest assured that investing in a photography business is a great idea.
Get better at niche photography
Another tell-tale sign that a photography business might be a good idea for you is if you are already focused on getting better at a certain type of photography. As you know, it takes a certain expertise to shoot headshots and another exercise to take action shots.
Trevor Yannayon started his photography side hustle as a result of wanting to get better at action shots. He says, “My side hustle grew out of my desire to get better photos of my kids playing sports. The more photos I took the more my passion grew and while it was not my intent it has grown into a nice side hustle for me.”
During the process of learning how to take better action shots, he was able to hone his skills and become an outstanding photographer.
It’s true photographers are a dime a dozen, but being a good photographer that has taken the time to specialize in a certain type of photography might just be the key to help you land jobs.
Don’t be afraid to go where life takes you
Sometimes a side hustle can come as a result of your life taking an unexpected direction. In other words, sometimes you can find what you’re truly passionate about when your plans change.
This is how Erin Parker got into wedding photography. She says, “I started my wedding photography business after a series of unfortunate events clouded my future. My boyfriend left me, I was let go from my desk job, and my apartment lease ended. In one month, I was back at my parents house working at a non profit to make ends meet wondering if life was worth building back up again.”
Not to spoil the ending, but Erin Parker turned lemons into lemonade, now has a thriving photography business, and takes some of the most gorgeous wedding shots you’ve ever seen.
Parker has also been able to quantify her success. She reports, “After just one year, my profits have increased by 183%. With that, I was able to afford a second camera. With the help of an automated CRM system embedded in my website, my lead conversion rate is at 79%. I also have tens of 5 star reviews from happy customers!”
If your life is leading you down the path of starting a side hustle photography business, consider writing a business plan, purchasing the right equipment, and most importantly, getting your website up and running.
Why Do Photographers Need a Website?
It’s true there are several other photographers out there doing exactly what you want to do. However, don’t let that stop you. Erin Parker even says the amount of wedding niche photographers in her area is overwhelming, but she doesn’t worry about it.
She says, “There are literally thousands of wedding photographers in Orange County. I used to see it as an impossible barrier, but now I realize there is enough to go around.”
So, how do you penetrate a saturated market and show off your photography skills? The answer is simple: get a website up and running. Here are some top ways a website will help you promote your side business and get found.
1. Get found by local consumers
When you want to find a specific service in your local area, what do you do? You head over to Google and type in a keyword. Google then returns a list of websites for you to browse.
Don’t believe it? According to recent reports, 97% of consumers search for local businesses online.
Without a website, it’s impossible for your side hustle to show up in the search results as one of the local photography options.
To ensure you attract customers in your area, it’s imperative you get a website up and running, and optimize it for local search.
2. Show off your photography work
While several people will search for a photographer online, you’ll probably get most of your work through word-of-mouth referrals.
Trevor Yannayon says, “My side hustle began and had continued to be successful through word-of-mouth which is where 95% of my clients come from. I also have many return clients.”
Erin Parker tells a similar story. She says, “Word of mouth in the form of referrals has been my greatest lead source. People trust their friends. Tell everyone you meet what you do. Offer a referral program. I give $100 to anyone who refers me a client that books a wedding package.”
If most of your business comes from referrals, why do you need a website? A website is the perfect place to put up your portfolio, show off your style, and let your work do the selling for you.
Even if you have a referral, it will be difficult to land clients if people can’t see your work. A website will tell potential clients who you are, what kind of photography you do, and what your photographs actually look like.
3. Build credibility
Even if you are one of the best photographers in the world, you need a website to be considered a professional.
A website helps you provide information about your experience, showcase your portfolio, build your email list (if applicable), and list your contact information for future communication. All of these elements of a website help you build trust with your future clients, which establishes credibility.
If you don’t have a website, you may come off as an amateur who lacks the business savvy to run a side hustle effectively.
With this in mind, it’s interesting to note that 50% of small businesses don’t have a website. Having a website will give you a leg up over 50% of other small business owners.
How to Create Your Photography Website
Now that you understand how important it is to have a website for your photography business, the second step is to build your website. You may be worried that it’s too difficult or expensive, but with the help of HostGator’s Website Builder, you can get a gorgeous website up in no time.
Not to mention, if you do run into any problems, HostGator has a team ready to help you. Erin Parker talks about how helpful the HostGator team was:
At one point I tried to change my website domain by myself and in one second it was gone! That was honestly the most frustrating obstacle. As a business owner, I am the photographer, the marketing team, the accountant, IT, and everything else you need to run a successful business. Thankfully, HostGator was able to help me after a phone call with some tears.
If you follow the process outlined below, hopefully you can avoid the tears and easily build your photography website.
Step 1: Pick a hosting plan for your photography website.
The Gator Website Builder has three hosting plans. You can pick your plan depending on your needs. The starter plan includes a free domain, 200+ templates, a drag-and-drop editor, cloud hosting, and website analytics, and is the perfect pick for someone looking to start a photography website.
If you are nervous about building your own photography website and want priority support, you’ll want to select the premium plan. This plan provides everything in the Starter plan plus priority support.
If you are planning on selling anything on your website like stock photos or merchandise, you’ll need the eCommerce plan.
Once you’ve picked a plan, click “buy now” and you can set up your account.
Step 2: Pick a domain name for your photography website.
Every Gator Builder package includes a free domain. To pick your domain, all you have to do is type something in the “get domain” box. If your top choice isn’t available, select another.
You’ll notice that many photographers use their own name as their domain name, but this isn’t a must. Here is an article on how to choose the perfect domain name for your business if you need help picking out the perfect name for your photography website.
If you already have a domain name, that’s great! You can connect it to your HostGator account by clicking “connect it here.”
Step 3: Create your account.
Once you have a domain name, you can connect your HostGator account. All you need is an email address or Facebook account to connect. Then, enter your payment information, and you’re all set.
Step 4: Pick a template for your photography website.
The best news about creating your website is you don’t have to do any coding. The Gator Website Builder comes with templates, and all you have to do is pick one.
Once you create your account, you’ll be directed to the “choose a template” page. You can scroll through over 200 professionally-designed templates, and select the template that best fits the goals for your photography website. You can also customize any of the templates to your liking.
Step 5: Add content to your photography website.
Once you have selected the perfect template, click “start editing.” This will send you to your dashboard where you can add, edit, and delete pages.
Gator Website Builder includes a drag and drop builder to make it easy to design your website. However, if you have any questions, Gator Website Builder also includes a free and easy step-by-step guide for reference that you can access at any time.
To access this guide, Click the “menu” icon next to the Gator by HostGator logo and select the “getting started tour.”
Step 6: Review your content and launch your photography website.
The last step is to review your website and go live. By clicking “preview,” you can see your photography website in full. This is when you can look at your website and make sure everything looks perfect.
If everything looks right, then click the “finish preview” button at the top and then “publish website” at the top of the dashboard. Gator Website Builder will present a series of quick steps to help you go live, and you’ll be officially ready to land your first client.
Get Started Now
A photography side hustle is a fulfilling and lucrative business, but it’s difficult to be successful if you don’t have a website.
Remember that starting a website is easy. Check out Gator Website Builder today to get your photography business started.
Ashley R. Cummings is a professional freelance writer specializing in SaaS, tech, and advertising/marketing. In a previous life, she was a Russian teacher at Brigham Young University, a corporate trainer, and a grad student—all at the same time. When she’s not writing, you can find her traveling the world with her 2 kids and husband, reading poetry or taking a deep dive into the fabulous world of comedy. Connect with her on Twitter at @ashleyrcummings.